Loan Program Spurs Economic Growth

To help our communities become stronger and more resilient, one of the best tools we have is a federal program known as the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.

Excerpt from October Ruralite Managers Column - Known as REDLG, this program provides zero-interest grants and loans to rural utilities, which in turn pass them through to local nonprofits or public agencies for projects that create and retain jobs in rural areas.

Nationally, this program has helped fund infrastructure, housing, advanced internet access and improvements to schools, public safety and healthcare facilities.

In recent months, zero-interest REDLG loans helped fund a fire truck in North Carolina, build a medical clinic in Iowa, replace a hospital roof in Illinois and locally to help rebuild the City of Hermiston’s Funland Playground.

We were proud to assist the City in receiving a $250,000 REDLG loan to supplement its Funland fundraising activities. Using this program, we previously assisted Good Shepherd Health Care System with several of its expansion projects.

While REDLG is geared to supplement projects planned by public agencies, there is a second way this program helps our community: As these loans are repaid by the recipient, the payments go directly into UEC’s Revolving Loan Fund to provide loans to new and growing small businesses in our community. (REDLG provides for rural utilities to establish these “revolving” funds that use repayments on existing loans to issue new ones.)

In the decade since we started our Revolving Loan Fund for small businesses, it has been seeded with more than $1 million in repayments from local REDLG projects.

With this seed money, which also includes matching funds approved by our Board of Directors, our Revolving Loan Fund has provided more than $2 million in loans to a variety of local small businesses over the past decade.

As REDLG funds are awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a competitive basis, UEC will work with your agency in preparing and advocating for a successful application. If you have a project in need of funding, or want to learn more, our business development contact is Bill Saporito. Contact him at 541-561-0104 or We also welcome your thoughts on how the program can serve our communities as effectively as possible.

In a future column, I’ll share how our Revolving Loan Fund is helping local small businesses. During National Cooperative Month in October and all through the year, we are grateful to be able to contribute to the benefit of our members and community.

Robert Echenrode

CEO & General Manager